Department of Homeland Security Uses Twitter for Monitoring Citizens
By Emily Stanton
July 18, 2013
The Department of Homeland Security uses this Twitter account to monitor
issues of national security, newly-released documents reveal.
On the heels of revelations about National Security Agency spying, it turns
out the Department of Homeland Security has its own way of keeping tabs on
the American public via social media.
New documents show DHS's National Operation Center has been using Twitter to
monitor the public and 337 accounts of interest.
No tweets have been posted from the account, @DHSNOCMMC1, and it does not
appear to accept follow requests. The Twitter accounts DHS follows remained
private until Freedom of Information Act documents revealing the accounts
were posted by government transparency group MuckRock Wednesday.
Among the accounts it follows are a mix of news organizations, police and
fire departments, emergency management agencies and utility companies. The
only individuals followed are District of Columbia Mayor Vincent Gray and
FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate.
In 2012, the Daily Mail revealed a list of keywords being tracked by the DHS
on social media, including "Mexico," "nuclear," "flu," and "pork." Twitter
applications TweetDeck and TweetGrid were used to monitor tweets according
to the MuckRock documents. Over a six-month period the National Operations
Center generated more than 9,300 "item-of-interest" reports from its social
media monitoring program, according to California Watch.
"The Department of Homeland Security's National Operations Center employs
social media monitoring for situational awareness purposes only, within the
clearly defined parameters articulated in our Privacy Impact Assessment, to
ensure that critical information reaches appropriate decision-makers," said
DHS spokesman Peter Boogaard in a statement emailed to Whispers.
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